A vic­tim’s tax on gun­mak­ers

The Week (US) - - 12 News - Mark Joseph Stern


Imag­ine you’re in a church, movie the­ater, con­cert, or school, and a mass shooter opens fire with an as­sault-style weapon de­signed to kill dozens of peo­ple in sec­onds. You wake up in a hos­pi­tal with griev­ous wounds, hav­ing lost the abil­ity to walk or care for your­self. You should be able to sue the man­u­fac­turer and gun dealer and use the money to pay your mam­moth med­i­cal bills, said Mark Joseph Stern, but un­der a fed­eral law passed in 2005, gun deal­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers can­not be sued by peo­ple hurt by their prod­ucts. In­deed, “firearms are the only con­sumer prod­ucts,” in­clud­ing vac­cines, drugs, and au­to­mo­biles, ex­empted from all li­a­bil­ity. Why? Ev­ery day, an av­er­age of 315 peo­ple are shot in this coun­try, and 222 sur­vive, of­ten with se­ri­ous in­juries that drive them into bank­ruptcy. A Congress cowed by the gun lobby will clearly not change the li­a­bil­ity law, but states can help sur­vivors by im­pos­ing a new tax on gun sales and firearms rev­enue, and creat­ing a fund for vic­tims. The firearms in­dus­try has made bil­lions by creat­ing and flood­ing the mar­ket with ever more destruc­tive weapons, fu­el­ing a ter­ri­ble cri­sis of gun vi­o­lence. “It should be re­quired to pay for it.”

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